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Author: Rachel

Gumfreston: Update on repairs

Three months on site, and we’re in the thick of the repairs at St Lawrence’s, Gumfreston in Pembrokeshire.

Towards the end of last year our team got the site set up, clearing the access track, adding protection around gravestones, laying gravel to enable access over the mud, and installing the site welfare unit (read toilets, kettle, microwave, etc.).

The scaffolding and temporary roof took about four weeks to assemble across this narrow site and tall church. A bridge over the churchyard wall enables direct access to the tower scaffold and a sturdy route for materials to be deposited. It also means the main access to the churchyard can remain in use by the public. The temporary roof means that the weather will not cause delays to the work.

St Lawrence's church cloaked in scaffolding

Internally, free-standing timber furniture and fittings have been removed for intensive treatment for woodworm and the medieval wall-paintings have had protection installed for the duration of the works.

The appointed contractor, Tree & Sons, have been working ferociously hard these past few months. The invasive ivy has been removed and roots dug out from masonry joints and wall-heads. The cement pointing has been raked out across all surfaces, and the tower has been dubbed out in preparation for rendering.

Cement pointing raked out of masonry joints

The concrete roof over the tower, which was reinforced by a couple of cast-iron bed frames, has been hacked out, and a new roof has been formed in timber. The rainwater disposal system at the top of the tower has been improved too.

Creating a new roof for the tower

Progress on the new tower roof featuring new access hatch

Inside the tower, the joists to the belfry floor have been mended, and the pre-Reformation bell has been inspected by an expert from St David’s, who will advise on repairs.

The lone bell

At present, the main focus is on the roofs. The slopes to chancel, nave, porch, and S chapel have been stripped of slates, and repairs are underway to structural timbers.

Not bad for a few months’ work!

After this, the team will press on with external masonry repairs, laying new drainage, improving the electrical installation, and then we can make a start on the interior.

We are so grateful to the whole project team  - the smooth-running of the repairs to date is entirely due to the hard work, co-operation, and mutual respect of all involved.

Maggie, our Volunteer Co-ordinator, is busy organising a talks and open days at the church, which we will publicise in due course.

We are so grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund, who have provided a grant towards these repairs.

Finally, in case you haven’t seen it  - we were delighted that St Lawrence’s featured in this Sky News feature about redundant churches.

Can you help us with our work? We care for 64 redundant places of worship in England and Wales — historic buildings which need continual maintenance — and we save more every single year.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who supports our work.

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